I've decided to branch out to the exciting world of gear reviews. So, all you awesome running companies, send me piles of junk and I'll figure out a way to review it, and I'll look cool wearing it. Plus, unlike those losers in the front of the race, I'm always cheering with spectators and waving to people, which is way more important than actually winning these events.
On a trip to my local gun store, I found the New Balance Minimus Trail in 10 on sale for around $79. I already had the Minimus Zero in 9.5, which I really liked, but had major problems with feet getting pounded and the top has started to come undone. Likewise, my year old Trail Gloves in 9 are nice, but I know that I really do need to move up to the 9.5 as a standard. I had already been wanting to consider something in a 10, mainly for doing longer races when I know the feet will expand.
The Minimus Trail has a lot more foot protection than either the Trail Glove or Zero. The Vibram outsole is hard, but there's otherwise minimal padding. I'm hoping that it will hit the rocks a bit better than the super soft options that I've been wearing to this point.
Likewise, the shoe has good heal to arch fit, which is what I've been looking for. I've realized that I'm going to need to allow for more toe splay on the longer runs, as the toes swell up over distance.
I took the Trails out for a road run last night, to start the breaking in process. I didn't get the usual sole beatings that I get with most minimal shoes, but still felt plenty of ground contact. My only real complaint is that there was a bit of slide around the left big toe that would have started to blister. I'm not sure how much of that is due to shoe newness, how much is due to sock newness, and how much is due to general foot wear and tear. I think I'll take blisters over sole beatings at this point.
I would recommend the Minimus Trail for people who want an introduction to low-padding running, but don't feel ready to feel the feet pounding of the more minimal cousins. Trust me, once you hit that first rock, you'll be glad to be wearing shoes with hard, rather than soft, sole.